Two-bedroom flat worth £4.65m reveals hidden tragedy of Earl
THE GRAND Georgian terraces of Belgravia are among the most exclusive addresses in London. Its statesmanlike squares and white stucco-fronted mansions have been home to an impressive roll call of the great and the good. From Mozart to Ian Fleming, from Lady Thatcher to Cara Delevigne, its illustrious residents have contributed to its sense of grandeur. But one house, practically next door to where the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson lived, has a hidden history, teeming with royal secrets.
A two-bedroom, second floor flat on Upper Belgrave Street resides in a building that was originally built in the 1820s for an illegitimate child of King William IV. George Fitz-Clarence, as he was named, was the eldest son of actress Dorothea Bland, who had a 20-year relationship with the monarch. The affair was well-known and, had they married, George would have been the heir to the throne. However, he had a problematic time with his royal father due to his drinking and gambling habits, so a series of titles were bestowed upon him instead, such as the 1st Earl of Munster, Lieutenant of the Tower and Aide-de-camp.
It all ended in tragedy when he committed suicide at his home in 1842, aged 48, using a pistol that had been presented to him by King George IV. Recently historians have speculated that he suffered from a hereditary disease called porphyria which affected his mental health. “It’s got a fascinating history, but then that’s Belgravia for you. There are blue plaques all over the place,” says Nat Wilde, manager of Hamptons International in Sloane Square. “People do like to know about the history of these places because it lends a human touch to the building.” Even if the person killed themselves there? “Yes, they’re not bothered about that at all. Foreign buyers love it especially because they feel as though they’re not just buying a home, but a piece of English history.”
The house, renovated and split up into apartments like many of the oldest Belgravia mansions, is certainly not suffering on price or popularity. Hamptons has already refused an offer for £4.2m in the two months it has been on the market, after an apartment on the same floor sold for £300,000 more. The Grade-II listed building boasts a sweeping staircase in the entrance hall, original 17th century high ceilings, a lift, a resident caretaker and a triple-aspect view south, east and west over Eaton Square and Saint Peter’s Church. You wouldn’t know the apartment had such an infamous past from the modern furnishings (above) which have been designed by the wife of the current owner.
The apartment in Upper Belgrave Street is on the market for £4.65m. For bookings call Hamptons International on 020 7717 5317